The Problem Facing Chinese Magicians
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Rory is a magic writer and producer who has consulted for performers like Dynamo, Justin Willman, Neil Patrick Harris & more.
In 2016, a magician friend asked to meet for a meal while he was visiting London.
I picked a half-decent restaurant and didn’t think much of it.
When I rocked up, I was met by my friend and also six important business people from a large Chinese TV network. I was not expecting important business people, and it was as I shook each of their important business people hands, I began to regret my choice of restaurant.
And so the eight of us perched on our bar seating, and they pitched me their big television show on their extra-large iPad, while I tried ever so carefully to eat my burger without making a mess. I was 21, and I wondered what on earth they thought of me and my baby face and my terrible dining decisions.
The show was ridiculously ambitious—too ambitious. It was a worldwide talent competition of sorts, but for magicians. I had just finished my role as lead consultant on The Next Great Magician for ITV, which was way smaller but similar and full of unexpected challenges. This Chinese show, dubbed “The Olympics of Magic,” sounded gigantic and totally impossible—it wouldn’t even fit on an iPad mini.
I offered polite advice, jotted a few notes down on a napkin, gently pointed them in the direction of my agent and departed the restaurant fully convinced the show was far too ambitions to ever actually be made.
A year later, I’m in Melbourne, Australia, and my agent calls to tell me the Chinese magic show is, in fact, happening and if I can get a work visa in the next 48 hours, I’ll be ending my Australia trip early and flying to Nanjing on Monday. And so I got the visa, and I flew to China, and am forever thankful and lucky to do the things I do.